It isn’t that there hasn’t been much going on…but most of what the last few months has entailed was routine. We had Christmas Break, started the Spring Semester, had a bunch of snow days (like, one per week, almost literally…), and now I’m on Spring Break…but more on that later…
Probably the biggest thing that’s happened was Meg’s 10th birthday. It’s crazy to think that it’s been 10 years since she joined the family! We had a small gathering for some of her friends after school last Friday, and keeping 4 fourth graders entertained for 5 hours is certainly a challenge…
Speaking of Spring Break, I’ve gotten a few short-ish bike rides in, some running, some prep work for the rest of the semester, and a few other odds and ends done. Mostly, I’ve just been chillin’ around the house. The weather has been up and down (because Missouri), but we’ve had a few days in the past couple of weeks where we’ve hit the mid-60s or low-70s, so we’ve had a taste of Spring and are ready for it. Brooke even got her annual “burning of the garden” done! Of course, there’s a chance of snow tomorrow…because…Missouri….
The big news has been developing over the past few weeks. As you, dear reader, undoubtedly know by now, the world has been rocked by the novel coronavirus. Incidentally, Calvin, Brooke and I were struck with influenza a few weeks ago, so we’ve already had a run-in with sickness this year (yes, we had our flu shots…), but this coronavirus is a different situation.
So different that Missouri Valley has decided, along with many other colleges, to shut down in-person teaching for the foreseeable future. We’re on Spring Break, so students are already scattered all over the place. The administration took the logical step of delaying their return for an extra week, and gave them the option to choose to return if they want later in March. Buildings will be open, the dining hall will still function, dorms will be available….but we won’t hold any face-to-face classes.
For me, this isn’t going to be a tough transition. I already teach a few classes online, so I’ll just have to push a few buttons to move things over, in a few circumstances. For one of my classes, I’ll have to record some video lectures and think about how to assign a few “virtual laboratory” activities.
For other faculty, though, it’s going to be hard. Classes like chemistry, for example, aren’t easily switched to an online format. There are virtual solutions available, but not those that can be easily mobilized in a short time-frame with limited financial resources. I’ll probably have to help some of my colleagues come up with some solutions, but for some classes, there really isn’t a good option available.
So yeah, we chatted with the kids last night to explain that “things are going to look different” for a bit. I’ll go to work, but not on a regular schedule. They’re still going to school, so that routine hasn’t been affected….yet…. But we did have to tell them that they’ll have to be flexible and patient with what they’re used to getting from the grocery store. Supply chains have already been disrupted, so it’s at least possible that Meg won’t get her cheese crackers, or Calvin won’t get the exact frozen pizza he likes… It’s just hard to say whether groceries will be affected, or whether things will go “business as usual.” It just seems to be best to warn them so their frustration is at least slightly abated when things don’t happen the way they want… Right now, I don’t think they’re scared or anything, nor should they be, but I do want them to be prepared.
It’s gonna be weird! I’m not looking forward to exclusively online instruction, mostly because I actually like the interaction with students. Doing everything by email just isn’t the same… It’s better than spreading a virus to people more susceptible than us, though!